High prevalence of liver cirrhosis in Nigerians due to co-infection of hepatitis B and D

Medical literature explains the Hepatitis D virus as a satellite virus, a sub viral agent, which is co-dependent on the helper virus(hepatitis B) to infect the host. It has been identified that around 5% of the world population is infected by the hepatitis virus B in accordance with HDV infection.

A study published in The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries demonstrated the prevailing conditions in Nigeria of chronic liver disease (HBV) and assessed the rate of HDV antibodies in these patients. Lukman O Abdulkareem, the lead author pointed out, “HBV is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa with the highest prevalence of liver failure in Nigeria. Therefore, it is expected that HDV prevalence will be evident among these infected individuals.”

The research team identified that the patients with combined infection were at higher risk of liver failure compared to the HBV infected patients.  These infected patients (18.9%)displayed a higher prevalence of HBV antibodies compared to previous statistics.Moreover, to assess the severity of the disease, a liver function test was performed.

The research team discovered that the Nigeria border countries reported a higher prevalence of infection ranging between 29.3 % to 40.2%. The cultural and climatic changes in these countries were observed to influence the difference in reported infection cases. However, these countries imposed a risk for Nigerians due to tourism travel and migration.

Furthermore, Lukeman compared the HDV+ to HDV- individuals, which presented higher serum AST, ALT, INR in the liver function and low albumin level. In addition, these HDV-positive patients demonstrated a higher level of disturbed histological activity in the cells. Thus, these tests are considered the best predictors for fibrosis among the CHB. Thus, Lukeman and his team emphasized the implementation of proper standard screening of CHB patients for HDV to categorize the high-risk patients in Nigeria.

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